The Valerie’s House Team
Founder & CEO
A third generation native of Fort Myers, Angela is the Founder and CEO of Valerie's House. Her mother, Valerie, died in a car accident in 1987 when Angela was 10 years old, sparking a lifelong passion to find a place that could help other children like her. Angela says, “With a place like Valerie’s House, I would have connected with children like me and it could have made all the difference in my life.”
A University of Florida College of Journalism graduate, Angela spent 10 years working as a broadcast journalist around the country and then on to become a Communications Director on Capitol Hill in 2011. In addition to her journalism career, Angela spent several years working for and sitting on boards of various non-profits including the Wendt Center for Grief and Loss in Washington, DC and Big Brothers Big Sisters in Lee County. Angela returned to her hometown in 2013 and shortly after, founded Valerie’s House.
Angela was honored as a News-Press “Hero of the Year” finalist in 2017, a "Person of the Year" Finalist in 2016, and a Gulfshore Business "40 under 40" in 2015.
Amy Strom, LCSW-QS, M.S.S.A., M.Ed.
Amy oversees many aspects of the Valerie’s House grief support program, including family support, children’s grief groups, and working individually with children and their families. Amy earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Miami University, a Masters of Social Science Administration degree from Case Western Reserve University, and a Master’s Degree in Education from Ursuline College. Amy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Qualified Supervisor and a Certified School Social Work Specialist. She has worked in the social work field for almost twenty years providing services in schools, clinical mental health centers and private practice. The focus of her practice has been children, adolescents and their families.
Amy believes it is especially important to develop and strengthen the parent-child-caregiver relationship, assist children in learning to feel more independent and successful, as well as helping adolescents develop autonomy and learning to make good choices especially after experiencing a loss. She also supports the use of creative expression, humor, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral strategies into her client-centered approach to therapy. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Amy enjoys spending time with her husband of 25 years and her two sons at the beach, traveling or watching sporting events.
contact Amy at email@example.com
Program and Volunteer Coordinator
Allyson is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Having lost her father at the age of 16, Ally understands what it feels like to grow up without a parent and can relate to many of the children at Valerie's House. Ally is at the center of much of the Valerie's House activities, working to carry out the program and make sure every child and family is cared for. In addition, she works with our dozens of volunteers to help utilize their skills to best fit our growing program. Ally's passion for children is a vibrant part of her personality and is shown in everything she does.
Contact Ally at firstname.lastname@example.org
Melody Madigan, Family Support Coordinator
Melody Madigan is no stranger to helping the youth of Lee County. She has served Lee County students as a School Counselor for nearly 40 years. After retiring from the school district, Melody began to volunteer at Valerie’s House, facilitating a support group. Realizing that Valerie’s House is the perfect place to satisfy her passion to help youth she readily accepted a part-time position. She participates in intake interviews, assisting in the planning of group activities, makes family contacts and, her favorite, leading children support groups.
Melody’s educational background includes a Master’s Degree in School Counseling from the University of Akron, a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Kent State University. From her years of being a School Counselor Melody realizes the sincere need for a grief support center and is thrilled to be a part of Valerie’s House.
Contact Melody at email@example.com
Joanne Hayden, Operations Director
Joanne helps the various moving parts of Valerie’s House to run smoothly. She takes care of all of the property needs as well as the business side of Valerie’s House, and is also often seen at community events speaking and helping build awareness for Valerie’s House. She identifies with what the children at Valerie’s House are going through, as she lost her father when she was 14 years old.
Joanne comes to Valerie’s House after working for 23 years in office management and leadership positions with the Lee County Tax Collector’s office. She is a Certified Public Manager and earned her Bachelor degree in Interdisciplinary Social Science from Florida State University. Joanne has called Southwest Florida her home for more than 40 years and enjoys her free time with her husband and three children.
Contact Joanne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayla Schusterman, LCSW
Kayla is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who received her Bachelor and Master degrees in Social Work from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is also a certified Prepare Enrich facilitator. Kayla’s experience includes group work with survivors of suicide; residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment; counseling adults, couples and children in a private practice setting; as well as working as a school social worker for the Lee County School District. She is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers.
Aman Singh Nemitz, BS, MSW
Aman obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology and Sociology from Wayne State University in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan in 2011. Aman graduated with her Master's in Social Work degree from University of Southern California in 2017. After the sudden loss of both her parents in a fire in their home at the age of 22, and becoming a co-guardian to her teenage brother, a passion was sparked to devote her life to working with others facing difficulties.
Aman has volunteered and worked in both individual and group counseling settings with clients experiencing addiction, dual diagnosis, homelessness or poverty. Aman has also worked extensively with clients who are court ordered to treatment for felony drug court, anger management, and batterers convicted of domestic violence. Aman has completed over 300 hours of additional training on specific treatment modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, play therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. Aman enjoys incorporating elements such as creativity, humor, and mindfulness into the therapeutic process. In Aman’s free time, she and her husband, Jason, have fostered and adopted out over 100 pugs for a pug rescue, specializing in caring for medically complicated pugs. They also share a love for weather watching and go storm chasing in Tornado Alley every year.
Monika Urbanska, MA, ATR-P
Monika is a graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods-College mastering in Art Therapy and Mental Health Counseling. She also graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2009 from Boston University with a BFA in painting and minor in printmaking. Prior to working with Valerie's House, Monika worked at De LaSalle Academy of Fort Myers as a teacher and counseling intern with special needs children K-12. She specializes in working with children adolescents, and adults with Autism, ADHD/ADD, anxiety, depression, and grief as well as substance use in adults. She employs a client centered approach utilizing Constructivist, Cognitive-Behavioral, and Dialectical-Behavioral theoretical platforms.
Originally born in Torun, Poland, Monika is bi-lingual in Polish and English. Monika works in private practice in Fort Myers at Florida Art Therapy Services, LLC. She is also the owner, co-founder and artist of a local performance fishing apparel company called The Reel Chase.